Florida Statute 440 is cited as the “Workers’ Compensation Law.” It is the legislative intent that this law is an efficient and self-executing system and I hope to provide you with some practical tips to stream-line your initial receipt of benefits.
Notice – The act of advising your employer/carrier that a sudden, unexpected incident has occurred. This can occur either actually or constructively (meaning from the circumstances of the event your employer knows what happened).
Examples being they saw and/or heard the accident. The practical tip would be to do this as soon as possible and provide the employer/carrier with the names of all witnesses. Keep a copy of the witness list for your records. Although failure to timely notify your employer/carrier is a defense to your claim for benefits, it rarely holds up if you provide it as soon as practical.
Request Medical Care – After providing notice to your employer of the accident, you should specifically request medical care. Do not wait for the employer/carrier to advise you of your right to care. By asking, they are obligated to offer initial care and treatment as necessary. In an emergency, go to the nearest health care facility, preferably a hospital. Like the notice requirement, deal with the requirement for medical care as soon as possible. The importance of the request for medical not only obligates the employer/carrier to provide same but makes it clear you are the one hurting and hurting from what just happened on the job. This will likewise reduce the employer/carrier’s basis for denying care. Do not hesitate to request medical care after work hours, weekends, and holidays; leave messages, email and/or text them.
Medical Treatment – Once you have been authorized, by either the employer/carrier or their insurance company to see a health care provider be insistent on an appointment as soon as possible. Many injuries that don’t seem urgent can have longer healing times when not addressed early. Please notify the provider of all symptoms you associate with the on-the-job accident, even if these conditions are not severe. Some people have injuries that are serious but those conditions are being “masked” by more problematic conditions. Also, be completely honest in filling out medical questionnaires, especially with prior or pre-existing medical conditions. This failure can lead to impediments or even denial of care for injuries that are truly the responsibility of your employer/carrier. Don’t think for one minute that the employer/carrier won’t find out. They will.
Also, be compliant, meaning follow the advice of the health care provider. Some employees believe that they may lose their job if they tell their employer/carrier that their doctor has restricted some or all of the duties of their job. This may be true, especially since Florida is a right to work state. However, your failure to comply is a web of problems, additional injuries can occur, benefits can be suspended or even denied.
Notwithstanding the fact that the employer/carrier controls your benefits, especially medical care, since they choose your doctors, you are not totally without recourse. You have the right to a one time change which you must guard, and guard it well. If and when you make this written election, the employer/carrier will have just five days in which to grant you your request in writing. They must specifically name this provider although the appointment may not be specifically set. Failure by the employer/carrier to comply, as stated, will give you the opportunity to select your own health care provider and obligate them to pay for treatment. Be diligent and watch the “5 day” clock.
Here at Burnetti, P.A. we strive to help not only our past and current clients, but the public at large. We hope these tips are helpful and ease your way through this process. For further assistance please call.
Tampa & Lakeland Work Comp Attorney